Mr. Condom Saves Thailand

Mechai_Viravaidya, affectionately known as “Mr. Condom” in his native Thailand, has been promoting condom use since the 1970’s. Everywhere he goes, he encourages the use of condoms to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancies. He is at least partially responsible for reducing Thailand’s fertility rate from 7 to 1.5 and almost completely respsonsible for reducing the number of new HIV infections by 90% between the mid 90’s and 2005. It is estimated that his campaigns have saved the lives of more than 7 million people.

Incredibly, he did it in part by giving condoms to elementary school children to take home to their parents. Given the American right’s completely backward and jaw dropping assault on reproductive freedom lately, Mechai might have found himself hanging from a tree had he attempted this in the States.

It doesn’t take a doctor to save lives. Public health activists like Mechai do it every day. In fact, people around me do it every day and receive little credit for it.

Check out Mechai’s video of a TED talk given last year.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

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